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Designed by William Playfair, this imposing classical building with its Ionic porticoes dates from 1850. Its octagonal rooms, lit by skylights, have been restored to their original Victorian decor of deep-green carpets and dark-red walls. The gallery houses an important collection of European art from the Renaissance to the post-Impressionism era, with works by Verrocchio (Leonardo da Vinci's teacher), Tintoretto, Titian, Holbein, Rubens, Van Dyck, Vermeer, El Greco, Poussin, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Turner, Constable, Monet, Pissarro, Gauguin and Cézanne.
The upstairs galleries (14 to 18) house portraits by Allan Ramsay and Sir Henry Raeburn, and a clutch of Impressionist paintings, including Monet's Poplars on the River Epto, Van Gogh's colourful Orchard In Blossom and Gauguin's hallucinatory Vision of the Sermon. But the painting that really catches your eye is the gorgeous portrait Lady Agnew of Lochnaw by John Singer Sargent.
The basement galleries dedicated to Scottish art include glowing portraits by Allan Ramsay and Sir Henry Raeburn, rural scenes by Sir David Wilkie and Impressionistic landscapes by William MacTaggart. Look out for Sir George Harvey's hugely entertaining A Schule Skailin' (A School Emptying) – a stern dominie (teacher) looks on as the boys stampede for the classroom door, one reaching for a confiscated spinning top. Kids will love the fantasy paintings of Sir Joseph Noel Paton in room B5; the incredibly detailed canvases are crammed with hundreds of tiny fairies, goblins and elves.
Recent research has suggested that the iconic 1790s painting of Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, historically attributed to Sir Henry Raeburn, may in fact be the work of French artist Henri-Pierre Danloux.
Each January the gallery exhibits its collection of Turner watercolours, bequeathed by Henry Vaughan in 1900. Antonio Canova's white marble sculpture, The Three Graces, is owned jointly with London's Victoria & Albert Museum; when not in London it can be seen in room 10.
There's a charge for some special exhibitions.